It has been an up-and-down season thus far in 2014 for the New York Yankees. Their record of 25-23 after Saturday afternoon’s comeback win over the Chicago White Sox exemplifies that. They made plenty of noise in the offseason, signing the likes of Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka has been brilliant, but underachieving at the plate and injuries have caused plenty of flaws in the Yankee lineup.
A problem with the Yankees lineup is the lack of production coming from the top of the order. Brett Gardner has been producing at his normal rate, but more often than not finds himself ninth when everyone is healthy. The Yankees have a big problem in Derek Jeter. The future Hall of Famer is not the same player that he once was, yet he is still penciled in everyday he plays as the No. 2 hitter. This has caused a trickle down effect in the Yankees lineup, as Jeter is just not as productive as he once was, slashing only .268/.339/.312 on the season.
Ellsbury was the hero Saturday, hitting a home run in the 10th inning, but is sort of a square peg being forced into a circle hole right now with Beltran being on the DL. With how much he is getting paid, you would expect him to be able to produce wherever he is in the lineup.
Ellsbury is more comfortable at the top of the lineup, and his stats say it all. While hitting atop the Yankees lineup, Ellsbury is producing at a clip of .289/.356/.456 with 15 runs and 10 RBI in 90 at-bats. Prior to Saturday, in the three hole, he is hitting with a paltry slash line of .227/.298/.280 with seven runs and five RBI in 75 at-bats. You cannot expect to win games with one of the run producing spots in your lineup performing so poorly.
McCann, like Ellsbury, was brought over as a big money offseason signing, but he has not produced yet as you would expect from a player getting paid $17 million. He delivered the tying RBI in the ninth inning today, but is coming up well short of expectations the Yankees and fans had for him. He is on pace for a career-high tying 24 home runs, but that is a little disappointing as he is not taking advantage of the short porch in right field of Yankee Stadium, and is only hitting .222 on the season.
The Yankees cannot expect players such as Yangervis Solarte to continue producing at the level they have through the first six weeks of the season. Beltran’s injury has thrown the Yankee lineup a little out of whack, with players being put in positions they do not normally occupy. Jeter and Ellsbury are both owners of a 0.2 WAR, meaning they are barely playing at a replacement player level currently; McCann is not much better at 0.3.
The veterans getting healthy and on track will be imperative for the Yankees to straighten the ship offensively, as they need the offense to carry what is currently a patch work pitching staff. They will not always have Ronald Bellisario to bail them out in ninth innings after getting shut down the first eight.